Showering is an integral part of any skin-care routine. Though the process itself may seem pretty simple—lather, rinse, repeat, etc.—your shower routine can impact the way your skin looks and feels, particularly during the harsh winter months.
When it comes to caring for your skin, your body deserves just as much TLC as your face. Time spent under that hot, soapy water can give your head-to-toe complexion the moisture and nourishment it needs to avoid dehydration and flaking, which is why derms want you to pay attention to every step in your routine. This becomes extra important if your skin is prone to dryness, because the right products and practices can help stave off irritation (and on the flip side, the wrong ones can make things even worse).
Ready to jump in? Below, find dermatologist-approved tips for addressing dry skin in the shower.
1. Avoid hot water
There are few things better than getting into a hot shower after a cold day, but derms are pleading with you to turn down those temps. The reason? This hot water can strip your skin of essential lipids and proteins, which are necessary for protecting your skin from irritation and locking in moisture. Instead of making things extra steamy, opt for lukewarm water.
2. Don’t exfoliate every time
Although it can feel nice to use an exfoliating scrub all over, these abrasive products have the potential to disrupt your skin barrier. Often referred to as the "moisture barrier," this protective layer helps to seal hydration beneath the surface of your skin, and when it's compromised you run the risk of dryness, flaking, and irritation. Too much exfoliation can lead to cracking and all-around discomfort, so it's best to limit yours to once or twice a week with a gentle chemical exfoliant, like Skinfix Resurface+ Glycolic and Lactic Acid Renewing Body Scrub ($30).
3. Find soap that addresses sensitive skin
Thanks to harsh environmental factors like cold wind and dry air, your skin is likely to be extra sensitive during the winter months. Because of this, consider swapping your regular body wash with a fragrance-free one, as fragrances can cause redness or discomfort when skin is dry. Nécessaire The Body Wash ($25) fits the bill, as it's fragrance-free and packed with ingredients to help balance and strengthen your skin barrier.
4. Keep your showers short
Not only are shorter showers better for the environment, but they also protect your skin from getting overly dry or irritated. “It’s important to remember that prolonged exposure to water, and hot water in particular, can be irritating and drying to the skin,” Marisa Garshick, MD, previously told Well+Good Set a timer for 10 minutes—this will give you enough time to feel refreshed while still protecting your skin.
5. Pat dry and moisturize
When your 10 underwater minutes are up, make sure to pat dry with a towel (avoid rubbing, which can give you an unnecessary exfoliation) and follow up with a cream or lotion all over. “It’s key to apply moisturizer before the shower water evaporates from the skin surface, to seal it in,” Tsippora Shainhouse, MD, previously told Well + Good. The moisture from the shower will allow the lotion to fully absorb, giving your skin the extra hydration it needs to tackle the winter elements. If you really want to make sure your skin is extra hydrated, layer a body oil, like Ellis Brooklyn Myth Spectacular Scented Body Oil ($65), on top of your lotion, which will help lock in moisture all day long.
To see how a dermatologist hacks her own shower routine, check out the video below.
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